For those who love food, planning a meal for the big day can be just as important as finding the perfect dress is for other brides. It has to be delicious, made with fresh ingredients, look beautiful, and of course, delight guests. Then, there is the booze. And you have to remain within your budget. That’s where things can get tricky.
Alexia Miller, a writer at Small Kitchen College, faced that exact dilemma when planning her own wedding recently. She and her now-husband were fresh out of college and wanted to get the food and drink just right for the 250 guests, without somehow gouging her bank account. Catering is possibly the biggest expense when planning a wedding. Not to mention, when a wedding reception runs out of food or alcohol, you can be sure the guests are leaving early. So how do you keep the food and wine flowing when your cash flow is limited (short of making your own wedding cake)? Miller has shared her priceless tips with us. So raise a glass and eat, drink, and dance the night away!
1. The Venue Matters
Choose a venue that doesn’t require you to use their caterers (ex: a park, a backyard, an art gallery, etc.). This way you can customize food choices and bargain with vendors. At our wedding, we served small plates by way of self-serve stations. Each station had a different theme and, therefore, a different caterer. This allowed us to hand pick our food and our prices.
2. Show Your Loyalty
Ask your favorite restaurant to cater a small selection. More than likely, you will be able to bargain with them and because you are loyal customers, they should be willing to work with you. It’s also a cute way to personalize your wedding with your favorite dish, or food from your first date.
3. Consider the Small Business
Choose a caterer who’s just starting out, or works out of their home. Unlike big catering companies, they are still feeling out their value, so their prices will probably be lower. There is a risk factor here, so make you sure you do plenty of research by asking around. The best way to find a great, lesser-known caterer is by word of mouth.
4. Recruit Potluck-Style Assistance
There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help. Having family or close friends make your favorite dishes for the wedding in bulk will make the food more meaningful to you. For our wedding, my grandmother made her famous mac ‘n' cheese with stewed tomatoes. It was a hit, especially with picky eaters.
Probably the best financial decision we made at our wedding was purchasing all of the wine, liquor, and beer ourselves, instead of being charged by a company or a venue for each drink or bottle. We hired bartenders at an hourly wage and saved thousands of dollars.
Big Girls Small Kitchen is a food web site for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens founded by The Quarter-Life Cooks, Phoebe Lapine and Cara Eisenpress. They are also the authors of In the Small Kitchen.